|Losing my traffic ticket virginity -- not fun at all, but at least I'll remember it
||[Dec. 18th, 2008|01:37 am]
I got a speeding ticket a few months ago and the Defensive Driving paperwork was due this Monday. I registered online for it a couple of weeks ago, got started, found out how mind-numbing it was, and decided I'd get to it on Sunday so that I could print out the certificate and take it in on Monday.
So I got to it on Sunday and realized that you need a physical certificate, and that even with the overnight delivery option, I wouldn't be able to get it before Tuesday. Dang.
I figured I was going to have to pay the $200 fine and accept a slightly higher insurance premium. I drove down to the court at 2pm on Monday, and as I was pulling out my credit card, the clerk asked, "you know this means you're going to have a criminal record, right?"
It was a Class C misdemeanor, apparently, making me a Grade A moron. I resigned myself to the fact that I was truly and royally fucked, and asked her if there's anything at all I could do. "Well, that all depends," she said. "Do you have access to a computer?" I'm surprised how often I get that question. If she hadn't been in a position of absolute and complete power over me, I would have been tempted to let loose some snark.
"Hold on, let me pull up the calendar on my phone and check the century.. it's the 21st. Yes I do!"
"Well, I have four personal ones, and access to a couple of hundred at my University. Will those do?"
Anyway, she said she'd give me two extra days to turn it in, but the completion date on the certificate couldn't be late. At this point I realized the true enormity of my stupidity: I had 3 hours until the day ran out at 5pm, and the course would take 6 hours. If I'd at least gotten started the previous day, I would have been able to make it.
With nothing to lose at this point, I went back and spent the next 6 hours listening to the course, hoping that somehow it was all going to work out. Mind-numbing doesn't quite being to describe it—I think I have PTSD from it.
At this point things started to go right. At 9am the next morning, the defensive driving people woke me up with a phone call. Apparently I'd forgotten to put in some of my personal information. Wow. It was like everyone was trying to save me from myself.
What's more, even though the certificate wouldn't be processed until later that day, they'd record the completion date as the previous day. They'd overnight the certificate, which would reach me by 3pm the following day, and that would give me 2 hours to take it to the court. Piece of cake. The other bit of paperwork I needed was my driving record, which you can get from the Department of Public Safety for 10 bucks. There are websites that seem to scam you into paying $25 for it.
The next day, I kept glancing at the clock on my computer every twelve seconds on average, listening for that fateful knock on the door with my ears pricked up like a hunted deer, although hope started to wane as the afternoon wore on. I didn't even think of showering in case I missed the Fedex guy. 3pm— Nothing. I barely had time to start imagining the consequences, when, in a scene reminiscent of the Deliverator, I heard footsteps on the corridor followed by a pounding on the door. My computer said 3:00:31.
So that ended well. I've been in this country five years and I still haven't gotten used to how helpful government employees generally are. Mad props to Comedy Defensive Driving, the clerks at Travis Country Justice Court Precinct 5, Fedex, Austin DPS, and Vitaly (for talking sense into me and getting me to do the course even though I didn't know if they'd take it.)